Imatges de pÓgina

of all mental or bodily energy, and apathetic. They gave me the idea that they were all suffering from slow starvation. Though such of course could not really be the case in all cases, yet knowing what we do of the way in which Hindu widows are treated, I could easily account for their appearance which I have discribed above. They are said to be looked down upon ; they are said to be constantly worried by their mothers in-law ; they have no hope of happiness ; they are said to be perpetually taunted for their ill-luck as if they were the arbiters of their destiny in that respect ; they are said to be underfed and kept in close confinement. Now, I have some experience, as a Surgeon in Her Majesty's Service, of the manner in which Government treats the prisoners in Her Majesty's Jails as far ar food, clothing etc. are concerned, and if what is said of the Hindu widow's life is true, then I am constrained to declare the she is far worse off than a prisoner on the criminal side of Her Majesty's Jails.

65. PANDIT BADRI DUTT JOSHI.–Fourthly the virgin widows, whose milk teeth have not yet fallen, who have not even the least idea of what a husband means.

For such miserable members of our society, I say I should like to enforce marriage on them rather than enforce widowhood.

66. W. LEE WARNER.--I have been told by Hindu gentlemen of high position that infanticide and the crime of abortion are a very common outcome of this most objectionable custom (enforced widowhood)............ The widows of India deserve the consideration of benevolent reformers. I go further, and dare state that their treatment is unworthy of the intelligence and of the progress of Hindu Society.

67. A. O. HUME.-It (enforced widowhood) is productive of great evils, much unhappiness, much demoralization. It is a custom against which common sense and all the best instincts of our nature write, as in the case of slavery, the verdict" delenda est." But with all that, it does not, taking the country as a whole, produce so much evil as might be theoretically inferred. It is bad enough doubtless, but it is not that gigantic cancer of the heart's core of society, that tremendous and cruel evil, the eradication of which is essential as the first step to national regeneration, that the casual reader unacquainted with the intricacies of social life in the East might well conceive it to be from your eloquent and earnest denunciations.

But besides this I have another difficulty. I must divide widows into titular or virgin-widows, and real widows. As to the former I have satisfied myself by a careful study of all the authentic and authoritative texts produced on both sides, that there is nothing in the Shastras to prevent their remarriage ; and there being positively no good that can be even

; alleged from enforcing their continued widowhood, while very grave evils unquestionably flow there-from, I have no hesitation in earnestly pressing and entreating every good Hindu, who loves his family, his fellows or his country, to combine to make re-marriages in such cases customary and thus, as it were, legislate for themselves on this matter.

68. CHOTALAL SEVAKRAM, PRIVATE SECRETARY TO H. H. THE RAO OF CUTCH.-The custom of enforced widowhood, which inflicts perpetual misery on Hindu widows of the upper classes, is a monstrous evil, far greater than that of early marriages, and, as such, ought to enlist the most lively sympathy of the educated and the reformer, of the statesman and the scholar, of the philanthropist and the philosopher, and of the Government, at least so far as to aid the efforts of those who would exert themselves to bring about the emancipation of the tens of thousands of the unfortunate victims...... Their forlorn condition, when viewed with a sympathetic consideration, cannot but melt the most adamantine heart.

69. RAI H C. SETH, (JHANSI).-Every one will admit that the state of our widows is deplorable. They lead a life of misery, and many of them become degraded and criminal........

70. W. WORDSWORTH.—The condition of that unhappy class--the child-widows of India, though less pitiable

than that of infants married without their own choice or will to aged sensualists, is one which must command universal sympathy, and which no priestly casuistry can excuse or palliate. In a pamphlet by Mr. Raghonath Row, which I have been re-reading lately, there is a passage which portrays in sombre colours the hard lot of these innocent victims, and analyses the theological or metaphysical assumptions on which it is grounded. I have no more reason for questioning the substantial truth of Mr. Raghonath Row's representations than I have for questioning the truth of Manzoni's moving picture in the Betrothed of the fate of Italian noble maidens whom aristocratic pride condemned to a cloistered life before they were old enough to make a choice. But I must frankly say that, perverse and cruel as such practices are, I do not believe that their moral and social consequences have been, or are, so disastrous as eager reformers would wish us to believe. I do not believe that Italian Nuns, whose vocation was determined by their parents' choice, were necessarily either miserable or vicious, or that the same can be said of the great majority of Hindu widows. Human nature is marvellously plastic, and a state of life, which many women deliberately adopt, and which extrinsic circumstances impose on a multitude of others in all civilized lands, cannot be without compensating consolations. In those

where it is sweetened by domestic affections, sustained by religious devotion, or fortified by intellectual passion, I have no doubt, that the lives of those who, from choice or necessity, adopt it, are neither unprofitable nor unhappy. I share, of course, your own judgment of that masculine egotism which has imposed on one-half of the human race in India a law of sacrifice from which the other half is relieved. But the feminine world of India is, I suppose, hardly conscious of this inequality and finds a consolation in self-sacrifice which we can hardly estimate.*

* In his minute recorded as Chairman of the Rukbmabai Defence Committee, Mr. Wordsworth wrote:-(vide the Indian Spectator of the






15 Brahman women of all ages, 3 are not yet married, 7 are married, and 5 are widows, and widow's past remedy. There are proportionately 50 per cent more widows among Brahmans than among other castes, and this surplus may be wholly attributed to the greater extent to which infant marriages occur among Brahmans than is the case with other castes."

2. M. TILLAINAYAGAM PILLAI, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, MADURA. --One of the main causes of the existence of an unusually large number of these unfortunate creatures among the Hindus is early marriage.

Eth June 1887) “ Again, I need hardly say, that I consider the existence of the Hindu child-widow one of the darkest blots that ever defaced the civilisation of any people, and it is the direct and necessary consequence of the system of infant marriage. Some years ago, I should have expected that these sentiments would have found an echo in the bosom of every Hindu who had received an Engiish education, and particularly among those persons who were attempting to appropriate the political method and ideas of Englishmen. I have no such delusion now. I find some of them employing all the resources of theological sophistry and cant, not simply to palliate but to vindicate what is plainly one of the most cruel, blighting and selfish forms of human superstition and tyranny. I find others mancuvring to arrest every sincere effort at reform, sophisticating between right and wrong, defaming the character and motives of reformers, and labou ring to establish by arguments as ridiculous as they are insulting, that English domestic society offers a warning rather than an example to the Hindus. I find them vindicating early marriage as the only safe. guard against universal sexual licence, a confession of moral incompe tence which I should have thought that any people with a grain of selfs'espect would have shrunk from advancing."


3. NANDSHANKAR, ASSISTANT JOINT ADMINISTRATOR RAJPIPLA.—The practice may lay claim to antiquity and has all the force of long established custom. It is associated with a high sense of honour and delicacy cherished by the people in respect of the status of females, and is commonly regarded as a sure criterion of the superiority of one caste over another. This mark of observed by some respectable Parsis of the old school, and Kasbatis, and other well-to-do Mahomedans living among Hindus.

4. JOTEERAO GOVINDRAO PHULAY.-It is (not) quite evident from the partial Arya religious institution that when it prohibits the widows from remarrying, why the widowers should be allowed to remarry.

...There is no doubt that the selfish and wicked law-givers must have added such unjust and nonsensical clauses in their Shastras with malice towards the female sex.

5. KALIANRAI H. DESAI, OF BROACH.--The Hindu ideas about female chastity and integrity are so peculiarly delicate and refined that, it is almost impossible to convey an adequate notion of their influence on the social life of the people to any one who is out of the pale of the Community. The prevalance of the custom which Mr. Malabari so strongly condemns should be attributed to this religious and social aspect of the question.

6. RUNCHORLALL CHOTALALL ( AHMEDABAD).—It is a point of religious belief and sense of honour that prevents a woman of a respectable family from remarrying. I learn that there are certain sects even of the Mussalman religion, such as the Sayads, who would not allow their young daughters to remarry. There are many castes of the Hindu Community such as Kunbis in which widow remarrage is freely allowed ; but even among that caste there are some families who would

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